The previous Prioritisation phase identified ways in which governments and infrastructure owners and operators should prioritise specific infrastructure projects for development, in the context of long-term plans and policies for urban and rural development centered around a shared, systemic vision for climate resilience that is aligned with national and international priorities.
In the Feasibility and Preparation phase, projects from the prioritised list of schemes that have been selected (see Phase 2) are further assessed and developed.
This phase covers pre-feasibility and feasibility assessments and project preparation (note: some definitions of project preparation encompass pre-feasibility and feasibility assessments). Pre-feasibility assessments clarify and further refine the project concept, scope and boundaries, and provide additional evidence to support the project’s prioritisation. Project feasibility assessments cover, among other studies, market and demand assessment, technical options, normative estimates of capital and operating costs, potential revenue streams and an initial analysis of financing options for the project. Suitable approaches, for example nature-based versus grey solutions, are evaluated for social and environmental impacts and for how they will perform physically under expected defined shocks and stresses. Considering climate resilience in project feasibility assessments involves broadening out the typical economic feasibility assessment to consider climate-related risk and uncertainty, the wider system that the project relates to, and the value that a project can deliver (e.g., environmental and societal benefits).
Project preparation is the process of analysing and developing the selected project idea into a final project ready for implementation including determining administrative, financial, and legal arrangements, including selecting a procurement strategy. It also includes finalising the risk management approach and operational planning, accounting for the potential long-term physical and economic impacts of climate change. Forward thinking in this phase regarding climate change is essential for ensuring that climate resilience and sustainability are locked into the scope of an infrastructure project.
The output from this phase is a feasible project with defined climate resilience objectives and scope that is suitable for financing (see Funding and Financing).
Designers including planners, architects, engineers, and other consultants are involved in undertaking the technical and commercial feasibility studies, as well as project preparation and planning activities. It is important for technical experts, including engineers, in the topics of climate change, resilience and sustainability to be engaged in this phase more often than they are to supplement the consultancies who traditionally do this work.
Government actors define the guidelines, policies and frameworks that set out what makes good feasibility evaluation of infrastructure projects. They also ensure that these are being upheld by those undertaking the feasibility assessment. They are also accountable for ensuring that projects are aligned with policy and plans, and that they deliver wider societal, environmental and economic benefits in an affordable and inclusive manner. Governments can be the project sponsor for an infrastructure project and are in which case they are responsible for the project feasibility assessment. They can also form part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with a private investor.
Investors, whether private financiers or development banks, may be directly or indirectly involved in the feasibility and preparation of infrastructure projects. For the projects they finance, they may play a role in options evaluation and decision-making, bringing in their objectives, including the bankability of the project, into consideration.
Owners and operators can act as project sponsors for projects that will deliver new infrastructure or upgrade/adapt existing infrastructure to address climate risks. As project sponsors, they are responsible for overseeing the feasibility assessment and project preparation. They need to ensure that any options being put forward are practicable over their whole lifecycle and do not introduce new system vulnerabilities. Depending on the sector, owners and operators will either be governments, government-owned (e.g. transport agencies) or private entities (e.g. utility companies).
Key Inputs from Other Phases
Phase 1Policies and Plans
This phase sets the enabling environment – policies, plans and decision-making criteria – to which the projects need to be further developed, assessed and planned.
Robust feasibility assessments are dependent on the accuracy and availability of data, the collection of which must be promoted and led through government policies and programmes.
The phase establishes an initial evaluation of the broad social, environmental and economic risks and benefits of various project options that can be further developed, assessed and planned in the feasibility and preparation stage.
Phase 4Funding and Financing
This phase identifies the appropriate financial and operational mechanisms for the project depending on the proposed ownership structure. Particularly under resource-scarce conditions, the availability of funds and funders as well as the use of financing mechanisms will influence the and commercial viability and affordability of the projects being developed. The development of more standardised systems and evaluation metrics in this phase might influence the types of studies that need to be performed in the feasibility phase
The design establishes more accurately the design and operational performance requirements, site-specific conditions and risks as well as the delivery programme. Designers have traditionally struggled to integrate climate resilience into projects because resilience requirements had not been locked in scope in earlier phases. However, climate resilience is now starting to become as a key objective in more projects. Designers and engineers have a bigger role to play in supporting feasibility/preparation to ensure that all the right technical considerations and risk assessments and understanding of resilience value potential are evaluated earlier on.
Learnings from previous procurement efforts can help to identify procurement practices that more effectively support resilience-building which will help to inform future feasibility and preparation efforts.
As with design, data collected from the construction of other infrastructure assets and how these practices handle climate shocks and stresses can help to inform feasibility and preparation activities, including risk assessments, interdependencies analyses, and other technical analyses, for future projects.
Phase 8Operations and Maintenance
Evaluating the maintenance needs of assets over longer periods of time will allow for the identification of more effective resilience measures for design and operation that can be evaluated and integrated into new projects’ scopes in the feasibility phase.
Phase 9End of Life
Dismantling existing infrastructure can be expensive and complex to deliver. As existing assets reach the end of their lives, robust feasibility assessments and comprehensive planning that spans across lifecycle will ensure service continuity as one asset is decommissioned and another is introduced.
The Basics and the Shift
In the Feasibility and Preparation phase, different delivery strategies for achieving a prioritised project’s scope and objectives, including resilience, are explored from technical, legal and economic perspectives. In this phase, key decisions related to resilience value are made in setting design and operational performance requirements, siting, programme and delivery strategy. The feasible projects are then prepared into bankable projects to be taken forward for funding and financing. A well-prepared project will ensure that there is good risk allocation and commercial viability for the long-term.
The significant uncertainty associated with the impacts of climate change on infrastructure systems requires practitioners to consider climate resilience during the project feasibility and preparation phase. Suitable approaches should be evaluated to understand how they build resilience value in the infrastructure system, through a suite of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ measures, including for example nature-based solutions, while thinking about uncertainty through redundancy, flexibility, and adaptability. The costs (including unintended negative consequences) and benefits (including social and environmental co-benefits) of alternative options should be considered against the most likely climate scenarios and other expected shocks and stresses for the location of the study.
The following table explains how climate change impacts on the ways in which practitioners assess the long-term feasibility of infrastructure projects to enable more climate-resilient infrastructure.
Traditional Responsibilities and Decisions
Effects of Climate Change
New Tools and Approaches
The assessment of a project’s feasibility is typically focused on technical, economic and legal feasibility using traditional methods e.g. return on investment analysis.
Projects need to consider the impact of climate change on the long-term performance and operation of the proposed infrastructure project and the systems that they operate within. There should also be an understanding of the wider outcomes that they deliver.
The following tools and approaches are available to inform about the wider benefits of the project:
- Multi-criteria analysis
- Social cost benefit analysis
- Real options analysis
- Robust decision making
- Rule-based decision support for uncertainty
- Decision-making under uncertainty/Uncertainty framing
Additionally, when thinking about the feasibility of options, this should be in the context of whole lifecycle planning, where the long-term affordability in the context of climate change needs to be considered.
A project’s feasibility is typically considered in isolation rather than how the project will contribute to the resilience and outcomes of the wider system and its interdependent systems.
Our infrastructure assets operate within a system-of-systems and are increasingly interdependent. Climate change can compound this issue, and extreme weather events can lead to failures of individual assets which can have significant impacts on the system they operate within, alongside other interdependent systems. This can then lead to wider societal and environmental impacts.
Systems mapping and interdependency assessments are emerging tools that can be used to understand how different systems interact with each other. Typically, these assessments will be based on qualitative data. This can be undertaken with internal stakeholders to identify and assess the dependencies across the system, or with external stakeholders to understand cross-sector interdependencies. However, where data is available, systems mapping can be quantitative.
Understanding the interdependencies of infrastructure systems, and the critical failure points, is therefore vital to achieving long-term climate resilience across a whole jurisdiction or region. It can also reduce costs and distribute the risks.
Options for physically resilient infrastructure have traditionally focused and relied upon infrastructure hardening and through the development of grey infrastructure.
There is a need to ensure that the development of new infrastructure projects does not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Therefore, we need to ensure that greener and more sustainable solutions are prioritised and that where possible, nature-based solutions that support both climate change mitigation and adaptation are written into the scope of the works.
Nature-based solutions and green infrastructure provide opportunities to use, learn from, and promote eco-systems’ naturally-evolved resilience. Nature-based solutions can also provide wider benefits to society through better environments, access to cleaner air, increased biodiversity and access to green space
Infrastructure projects have traditionally used past weather events as a predictor of the future and not considered the impact of future weather and climate on their feasibility.
Climate change affect both average and extreme weather conditions, including temperature and rainfall. This means that information on previous weather averages and extremes is no longer representative of future conditions. Therefore, thought needs to be given about how future climate scenarios may present risks to infrastructure systems and how the evaluation of project feasibility in light of these dynamic risks must evolve.
The following tools and approaches are available to inform practitioners in the feasibility phase about future climate risks:
- Global, national and regional climate change projections
- Climate change risk assessment
- Sensitivity analysis
to potential future climate extremes should also be communicated.
Climate resilience measures are often implemented later in the infrastructure lifecycle, at the design, construction or operations and maintenance phase, leading to increased overall costs.
With climate change, resilience measures need to be built into the scope of new infrastructure projects at an early stage. A comprehensive climate change risk assessment should be undertaken to see how climate change may impact the proposed project over its whole lifecycle. Additionally, individual assets need to be flexible and adaptive to potential future uncertainty.
There is a need to ensure that pre-development funding is available to support the effective feasibility and preparation of projects, including conducting climate risk assessments and other technical studies necessary to integrate resilience value into the scope of projects.
Integrated Guidance for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure
Based on the review of over 150 existing publications and tools on climate-resilient infrastructure, the following key actions have been identified to support practitioners in integrating climate resilience into infrastructure development in the Feasibility and Preparation phase of the infrastructure lifecycle. These actions are summarized in the table below and grouped by theme. Each action is further elaborated on in this section and references and links to key publication and tools are shared.
The following resources have been identified as most relevant for practitioners working in the feasibility and preparation of climate resilient infrastructure.
Guidance Global Infrastructure Hub
Governmental processes facilitating infrastructure project preparation
This document provides a practical guide for Governments to improve project preparation practices. It provides guidance on the enabling environment, financing, infrastructure planning and project prioritisation, project feasibility, reviews and approvals, and project communication. This is supported by a series of case studies
Guidance European Commission
Climate change adaptation of major infrastructure projects: A stock-taking of available resources to assist the development of climate resilient infrastructure
This study reviewed the availability of resource materials that can support developers to integrate climate change adaptation into infrastructure projects. It provides a summary of available resources that contribute to the preparedness of all EU Member States with regards to applying the climate change requirements of the EuropeanStructural and Investment Funds programming period 2014-2020. It also identifies some of the ongoing good practices of Member States in adapting to climate change
Guidance European Financing Institutions Working Group on Adaptation to Climate Change
Integrating climate change information and adaptation in project development: Emerging experience from practitioners
This document brings together emerging experience in the development of strategies and plans, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies. It is intended to help practitioners ensure that climate change risks and vulnerabilities are properly assessed and that appropriate and robust adaptation measures are implemented.
Guidance City Finance Leadership Alliance
Summary of Good Practice of Successful Project Preparation Facilities
This document analyses project preparation tools, approaches, main bottlenecks, and solutions, by presenting three case studies as well as highlights from experts’ interviews. Each case study focuses on a project preparation facility (PPF) that is active at the subnational level in either Latin America or Asia.
Summary of Integrated Guidance
- Theme 1: Focussing project definition
- Theme 2: Embedding climate resilience into project planning
- 3.2.1 Undertake technical, legal and economic feasibility assessments considering climate uncertainty over the project’s lifecycle and the wider system to which it relates
- 3.2.2 Develop and assess options to deliver the project goals while factoring in climate resilience objectives
- 3.2.3 Prepare project governance arrangements to support and maintain climate resilience across the lifecycle
- 3.2.4 Plan for post-implementation evaluation
Theme 1: Focussing project definition
3.1.1 Refine project objectives, scope and boundaries to achieve intended resilience value and wider systemic outcomes
3.1.3 Engage broadly with stakeholders to build consensus on the climate resilience objectives of the project
Theme 2: Embedding climate resilience into project planning
3.2.1 Undertake technical, legal and economic feasibility assessments considering climate uncertainty over the project’s lifecycle and the wider system to which it relates
3.2.2 Develop and assess options to deliver the project goals while factoring in climate resilience objectives
3.2.3 Prepare project governance arrangements to support and maintain climate resilience across the lifecycle
3.2.4 Plan for post-implementation evaluation
Climate Change Mitigation Considerations
Theme 1: Focussing project definition
Climate change mitigation measures require more immediate and decisive action, to reduce the long-term impacts of climate change and the need for more extreme adaptation measures. Mitigation measures must be considered and built into project definition, scope and objectives. Stakeholder engagement and consultation will be important to build support for projects that include climate mitigation.
Governments have a civic responsibility to ensure that public infrastructure is accessible to all and can benefit all members of society equitably. Ensuring that projects are further developed and planned in a way that takes into consideration long-term climate impacts, aligns with a shared system vision and includes adaptation approaches will allow it to consistently serve society in times of crisis and provide co-benefits on a regular basis.
Theme 2: Embedding climate resilience into project planning
Feasibility studies must consider, wherever possible, climate mitigation in addition to adaptation and resilience. Mitigation becomes particularly important when decisions are made for the long-term, as interventions that look to mitigate long-term climate change must be incorporated as early as possible, to be most effective.
Resilience assurance/governance plans should also highlight opportunities for climate mitigation that can be implemented as the project develops
Climate change most severely impacts the poorest and most vulnerable; therefore, those in a position of power should equitably approach adaptation and climate –resilience-building.
Feasibility studies must take a people-centred view, putting emphasis on the needs of the most vulnerable members of society and selecting project options that deliver the greatest resilience value to the benefit of the many. Project preparation and planning activities offer opportunities to ensure that equity issues are acknowledged and addressed in the project scope.
Downstream Benefits of a Resilience-based Approach in the Feasibility and Preparation Phase
Phase 4Funding and Financing
Ensuring that the right projects are taken forward, ones that consider environmental, social and economic benefits while embedding resilience and sustainability, will reduce risk exposure to financiers. Moreover, this will help ensure that expenditure for operation and maintenance has been properly assessed and accounted for in budgets. The use of tools for decision-making under uncertainty can reduce the need for costly retrofitting while reducing upfront costs.
Factoring climate resilience into the scoping of bankable projects ensures that it is integrated into the design of the project. A climate change risk assessment undertaken as part of the feasibility and preparation phase will be used to inform a project’s detailed design. This will help ensure that it is designed to be climate-resilient, and that the infrastructure is sited in a location where it is less vulnerable to expected climate hazards. Considering nature-based, flexible or innovative approaches to climate-resilient infrastructure may also be cheaper than traditional approaches.
Climate resilience approaches and measures, including nature-based solutions where possible, will be set in the scope during the feasibility and preparation phase. They need to be considered and enabled by appropriate procurement approaches and practices.
Highlighting key climate risks at the feasibility stage will help to ensure that potential risks can be mitigated during construction, leading to reduced risk of unanticipated downtime at this stage..
Phase 8Operations and Maintenance
Setting out the right project at feasibility and preparation stage will help improve the management of routine maintenance and targeted interventions across the life of the asset. This will also improve safety to users and workers as well as provide efficiencies in terms of resource use. The use of tools for decision-making under uncertainty during project planning can reduce the need for costly retrofitting at later project stages. Taking an adaptive pathways approach will also enable potential future adaptation options to be more easily implemented.
Phase 9End of Life
Taking a sustainable as well as climate-resilient approach from the early planning phase of a project can contribute to circular economy principles, allowing materials and components to be re-used where possible. This will help mitigate long-term climate change impacts.